Summer Athletics: The Ultimate Challenge Review
Summer Athletics: The Ultimate Challenge box art
System: X360, Wii, PS2, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: 49Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Conspiracy 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: July 29, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Everybody loves the Olympics. And if there's something that gamers know, it's that game developers are all over anything popular. If people like it, you can bet it'll somehow be turned into a video game. 49Games and Conspiracy Entertainment have teamed up and skirted around SEGA's official license of the Olympic Games to churn out an Olympics-esque title that is more disappointing than Alicia Sacramone failing to medal in women's vault.

Summer Athletics: The Ultimate Challenge screenshot

Though it lacks any reference to the 2008 Olympics, Summer Athletics clearly revolves around the international sporting event. The title is a compilation of more than 20 different summer-themed sports games, from swimming and cycling to javelin-throwing and track-and-field events.

Summer Athletics does deserve some recognition for doing a few of the events well. But it really does seem that for every sport the game gets right, it gets two wrong. Some events are incredibly repetitive. For example, the adaptation of sprints is all about timing the start and then performing the same repetitive action over and over again until you cross the finish line.

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Some of the other events, however, are a lot more interesting. Of course, even some of the more exciting events are largely meter-based; you'll time button presses and specific actions that, if performed correctly, will allow you to execute an event well. The complex events are generally more fun, but there's a big catch.

Summer Athletics: The Ultimate Challenge screenshot

The problem is that while the more complex events are typically more enjoyable, they're also incredibly difficult to get the hang of. Consequently, Summer Athletics has a pretty intense learning curve, a problem made all the worse by the fact that this is a game clearly geared toward a more casual audience. When you've got to be constantly lining up items, filling up meters, and performing context-sensitive actions, you're already going to be confused. But Summer Athletics never really tells you what you're supposed to do. You'll have to run through an event several times before you finally get the hang of it.

Summer Athletics is also a pretty terrible-looking game. It doesn't vary much from platform-to-platform; no matter where you play it, it's going to look ugly. Character models are blurry and unimpressive, and animation for some of the events is done quite poorly. It looks like a game from last generation and, frankly, that's just unacceptable. Plus, graphics are something that are often more important with sports titles than in other genres of games, so the visual shortcomings are even more pronounced.

Summer Athletics: The Ultimate Challenge screenshot

The Wii controls for this title end up being both a good and bad thing. The Wii does allow for a lot of game immersion, especially with sports games. It's a pleasant surprise to realize you've broken a little sweat from playing this game for a half-hour or so. But on the other hand, the controls can sometimes be unresponsive, which is, of course, never a good thing. I've found events like swimming generally work well and are pretty fun. However, something like javelin-throwing, which has you thrusting the remote forward, among other actions, is often not picked-up. The hit-or-miss quality that's present among these different events is a big downside for the game.

Screenshots / Images
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